Leaving Antigua, W. I.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moving on...

Well, the engine replacement is truly behind us, now.  We've had an 80-hour shakedown during our southerly migration.  The first half of the trip, we were running the engine mostly by choice, as we wanted to get it through the break-in period.  To remind us of the perversity of inanimate objects, once we hit 50 hours and got ready for some peaceful sailing, we found three small tears in the mainsail.  It's only 32 years old -- things just don't last the way they should.  We elected to motor-sail to St. Lucia with staysail and engine.  That put a few more hours on the clock.  The sail-maker that we like in St. Lucia patched the main -- he figures there's life in it yet, and he's amazed at how well it's served us.  So are we.  When the time comes, we'll order another just like it from Lee Sails in Hong Kong.

We did the 50-hour service on the engine, enjoyed the beautiful weather and water in Rodney Bay, and whiled away two weeks.  Now we've gotten ourselves into that basic cruiser's trap, the schedule problem.  We have to get to Grenada by the end of April because we have plane tickets from there to the States, leaving May 2.  It's not far to Grenada; only about 140 miles, but there's no wind, so we fire up the diesel again.  Now that it's broken in, we can run it the way we choose, as opposed to following the break-in regimen.  That means that we don't have to run it as hard, and we're able to get a better feel for how it's going to serve us in normal use.  We've begun to gather some fuel consumption data. 

At 2000 rpm, the engine moves us along at around 5.8 to 6 knots, and uses 2/3 U.S. gallons per hour.  That's a little faster, and a little lower fuel consumption, than we were accustomed to with the old Volvo.  It's also much quieter and smoother than the old engine, and much quieter and smoother than running this one at higher speeds.  Interestingly, although this engine runs at a somewhat higher temperature than the Volvo, it radiates much less heat into the boat.  The cooling system is apparently significantly more efficient.  That's an unexpected bonus in the tropics.  At 2300 rpm we move along about a quarter of a knot faster, and burn about 0.9 gallons per hour.  To us, that bit of speed is not worth the extra fuel under normal circumstances.  If we push the throttle up to 2700 rpm, we're moving around 6.7 knots and using 1.35 gallons per hour.  An extra knot above our usual cruising speed doubles the fuel consumption.  At full throttle, we making about 7 knots, but we didn't keep it there long enough to gather any fuel consumption data.  The observed behavior tracks very well with Yanmar's published fuel consumption curve for this engine, which predicts that at full throttle, we would use a little more than two gallons per hour.  Talk about diminishing returns!  At least we have the option of using that extra power to drive into head winds and seas to run an inlet or get out of trouble on a lee shore, if we need it.  We didn't know how much better this would be than the old engine.

Enough about the engine.  We're happy to be back in Grenada, even if briefly.  The Customs agent at the Grenada Yacht Club welcomed us back, as did the Immigration agent.  We'll spend the next few days preparing the boat for our absence, removing and storing the sails, canvas, and so forth.  We're looking forward to seeing folks back in the States, but we'll miss Grenada while we're gone.  We keep reminding ourselves that we'll still have 4 months to enjoy this wonderful island when we return.

With boat work behind us for a while, I'm ready to shift my focus and energy to my writing again.  I'm still planning to publish "Dunga de Islan'" this summer, maybe before we get back to the boat, and I have a couple of novels on the drawing board.

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